In principle, all seven of EUR’s faculties plus two institutes would have been eligible for funds, allowing them to appoint one woman professor each. Seven of these appointments would have been funded by means of a subsidy granted by the former Minister for Education, Jet Bussemaker, in 2017, while two other appointments would have been funded by the university itself, so as to allow the two institutes (ISS and ESHPM) to appoint women professors of their own.

The applications for funded appointments were due to be submitted to NWO by Saturday, 10 February. So far, the university has not yet commented on the identities of the four new female professors and the faculties to which they will be appointed.

On 8 March, International Women’s Day, the Ministry of Education will announce the appointments of the Westerdijk professors.

‘Things like this must be done without the deans’ involvement, because if you ask them, things will inevitably go wrong.’

Jiska Engelbert, Universiteitsraadslid

Last Tuesday, members of the University Council expressed their opinions on the fact that the university has only found four candidates for nine available chairs. “The Rector spoke with all the faculties, and this was the best they could do,” Kristel Baele, the President of the Executive Board, explained.

“How could this possibly be?” University Council member Jiska Engelbert (ESHCC) publicly asked. “Things like this must be done without the deans’ involvement, because if you ask them, things will inevitably go wrong. What we should be doing is approaching suitable women ourselves and asking them to step forward.”

The President of the Executive Board responded to this comment by stating that it is illegal to directly approach women in this way. However, she also said that the Board will investigate the question as to why EUR did not manage to find sufficient candidates for all nine positions available.

Budget reallocated

It seems likely that the budget left unused by EUR will be allocated to universities that have submitted more applications for funded appointments than they are technically entitled to.

A quick survey of several other Dutch universities showed that at least half of the universities will meet or even exceed their targets. Maastricht University has found eight candidates for the available positions, while the three Dutch universities of technology will all use up the budget to which they are entitled (six new female professors for Delft, four for Twente and three for Eindhoven). VU University Amsterdam is entitled to funding for eight chairs, but intends to submit nine applications for funding. Needless to say, the applications are subject to approval by the granting agency, NWO.

A century after the first woman professor

It is up to the faculties themselves to decide whether they will use the €50,000 budget for pay rises (to make up the difference between full professors’ and associate professors’ salaries) or rather for the appointed professors’ research budgets.

Under the Westerdijk Talent Scheme, faculties are eligible for a subsidy if they appoint a woman who has not previously served as a professor at either the university concerned or another university to a new or existing chair. Subsidies will be awarded for a five-year period, although the appointments may be made permanent later.

The scheme provides associate professors and professors with endowed chairs offers with interesting promotion opportunities. The appointments made under the Westerdijk Talent Scheme will not count towards EUR’s current targets: 20 percent of all professors to be female by 2020, up to 25 percent by 2025.

The Westerdijk Talent Scheme was named after the Netherlands’ first female professor, Johanna Westerdijk, who was appointed exactly one century before the establishment of the scheme in 2017. Five million euros are available for the appointment of one hundred additional female professors at Dutch universities.

The Netherlands ranks quite low on lists of countries with the highest proportion of professors who are women. Out of all Dutch universities, EUR has the lowest number of female professors.

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